How Color and Careful Set Choices Helped Create the Perfect ‘13 Reasons Why’ Vibe
The show’s set designer reveals all the little secrets we missed from the set specifically — and some of them are majorly important.
Production designer Diane Lederman stressed about fan reaction just as much as the rest of the crew.
“When you get it right, people don’t notice. When you get it wrong, they absolutely do,” she told Elite Daily.
So she tried to make sure everything she did was super low-key — but realistic for that world.
“If sets don’t look real, it’s going to be very, very hard for people to let go and just get into the reality of the story.”
Diane felt color would lend an important vibe to the series. Naturally, she landed on a melancholy blue theme for emotionally struggling Clay and the overall despondency of the high schoolers.
“[E]verything having to do with Liberty High was shades of blue, and everything having to do with Clay was shades of blue,” she says.
“I thought blue was a very — just because of the emotional intention of the color — good choice for this show.”
Despite Hannah Baker’s tragic death, Diane went in a very different direction for the show’s main protagonist.
“Hannah’s palette was like lavenders and purples. That’s a color that evokes mystery, and it’s a very feminine color, and it was just the perfect color for her skin tone as well, so Hannah’s world was all purple.”
Meanwhile, Hannah’s BFF Jessica required a very different kind of vibe.
“Very soft pinks were for Jessica, because she was, I don’t want to say the princess, but she started out as the prissy character before she went dark.”
Color wasn’t the only tool in Diane’s arsenal — everything you see onscreen was there for a reason.
“Jessica’s rock collection that was discussed that was in her room, the stuffed animals were chosen in a very specific way. In Hannah’s room, all the drawings on the wall were thought about, sort of to reflect her emotional journey,” she added.
“In Clay’s room, all the robots, all the science paraphernalia and astronomy posters were to sort of emphasize his somewhat geekiness at one point.”
Carefully choosing the perfect rock may sound silly, but Diane insisted these well-planned decisions helped make the show the phenomenon that it is.
“[W]ithout those details and without trying to show the backstory of all these different characters, sets don’t feel real.”
Over time, as things got darker and more desperate for Hannah and Jessica, their fashion choices changed.
This was meant to reflect their inner turmoil, but Diane made sure their emotional suffering had no impact on their bedrooms for one very important reason.
The set designer wanted viewers to realize that even in safe-looking spaces, terrible things happen everyday.
A difficult but important lesson for all of us.
13 Reasons Why is currently streaming on Netflix.